Vakharia’s victory

The unceasing and untiring efforts of chartered accountant Jehangir Bisney and advocate Shireen Baria ensured a landmark judgement in the unique case of a semi-coma patient in Secunderabad. Dr Parin Vakharia of Secunderabad, who is 94 years old and presently in a semi-coma state for the last seven years, started receiving hostile calls and messages from her banks and other institutions for linking her Aadhaar.
Vakharia is a retired founder dean of the faculty of social work, The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, retired social affairs officer in the social services section of the United Nations Bureau of Social Affairs at New York, USA and retired director of Princess Esin Women’s Educational Centre at Purani Haveli Hyderabad. She has been incapacitated and bedridden since 2011 due to a cerebrovascular accident.

  Dr Parin Vakharia (above l) and Jehangir Bisney

  Shireen Baria

With Bisney’s assistance, efforts started in April 2017 to enable Vakharia get an Aadhaar card. In order to do this, two attempts were made by the Aadhaar authorities by bringing the required equipment to her home to obtain her fingerprints and biometrics. However, on both the occasions the enrolment was rejected due to very poor quality of fingerprints and the inability to capture her biometrics due to her age. Because of her prolonged state of semi-coma, she was unable to open her eyes voluntarily or hold the eyes still for scanning.
Thereafter, Bisney sent several emails to the Unique Identification Authority Of India (UIDAI) but he did not receive any reply to his emails. Frustrated, he personally approached a senior official at UIDAI Hyderabad who gave him a patient hearing and assured him that the formalities for issue of the Aadhaar card would be completed in a few days. However, despite several reminders to the said official, there was no concrete response.
Banks, mutual funds, financial institutions and other places where Bisney was dealing with on behalf of Vakharia, were sending repeated reminders for linking of her Aadhaar card. He feared that non-submission of the same by the due date could create tremendous hardship for her in the event of her bank accounts and other investments getting frozen and inoperative.
Left with no option, Bisney approached his friend and Supreme Court lawyer Baria based in Secunderabad to take up the matter. A finely worded legal notice was sent to UIDAI by Baria. However, UIDAI failed to respond to this too.
With the then deadline of March 31, 2018 for the linking of the Aadhaar looming large, Bisney and Baria filed a writ petition before the Hyderabad High Court. Baria mentioned that Vakharia was under immense pressure to obtain an Aadhaar number, failing which her entire earnings, income and investments in all her bank accounts would be frozen and become inoperable, leaving her with no remedy for her sustenance and medical needs. If Vakharia was not issued an Aadhaar card she would not be able to pay her medical expenses nor the salaries/payments to doctors, nurses, caretakers, thus endangering her life and infringing upon her fundamental right to life, it was argued. There was a strong possibility of a restriction upon her liberty to use her own monies for want of an Aadhaar card. In view of her age and medical condition, the High Court immediately stayed the requirement of the Aadhaar. In this landmark judgment, Vakharia thus got relief from the submission of the Aadhaar to banks and financial institutions.
Vakharia has no living relatives in the twin cities of Secunderabad and Hyderabad and she was just very fortunate that her chartered accountant Bisney stepped in. The Supreme Court bench of five judges hearing clubbed petitions against Aadhaar linkages on May 9 heard submissions by senior advocate Shyam Divan. He said that people have been facing a lot of difficulties in authenticating and specifically cited her case.
Bisney feels that “there are lakhs of Vakharias in India and everyone does not have a Bisney or a Baria to come to their rescue. Such people are deprived of their pension, ration and other financial transactions just because their fingerprints and/or biometrics failed to get them the Aadhaar.” Bisney hopes that the Supreme Court presently hearing the Aadhaar case considers all such circumstances before passing a judgment. “No person in India can be deprived of his or her right to livelihood for want of an Aadhaar card,” he averred.

 

By: BEYNIAZ EDULJI

PARSIANA

21-MAY-2018

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MahaRERA imposes penalty on developer for selling single flats to many buyers, directs refund with interest

In a landmark judgement, Maharashtra Real Estate (Regulation and Development) (MahaRERA) directed a Virar-based developer not only to give full compensation to flat buyers, but also imposed a penalty for the unfair trade practice as defined under RERA.
MahaRERA member and adjudicating officer BD Kapdanis, in his judgement on 27 April 2018, while disposing a complaint filed by Sanjay Lohar and Sukhram Kushwah, directed developer Raju Sulire, to pay the penalty of Rs2.50 lakh for indulging in unfair trade practice. Sulire is one of the partners of the ‘Om Mandar Realtors’, along with Ashok Pande.
Lohar had booked a flat in project “Mandar Avenue” located at village Dongre Virat (West), after paying Rs32.70 lakh in 2012. The developer had issued an allotment letter on 28 November 2013. Then Lohar came to know that the same flat was sold to one Vishal Khavale on 23 September 2013. Thereafter, the developer offered another flat to Lohar in 2016, but even that flat was sold to another buyer.
Similarly Kushwah on 15 May 2012 had booked a flat by paying Rs10 lakh. He was stated to have been issued an allotment letter. However, the developer sold the flat to one Vinay Adhav on 7 March 2014. This flat was sold to one Vinay Choradiya on 18 September 2017.
Both the flat buyers complained to MahaRERA against builder for unfair trade practice under section 7 of RERA Act, which authorises the authority to revoke registration of the project under sub Section (3) of Section 7. It also gives discretion to the authority to permit registration to remain valid subject to further terms and conditions as it deems fit in the interest of an allottee.
Kapadnis directed the developer to refund Lohar and Kushwah the amounts paid by them, along with simple interest at the rate of 10.05% per annum from the date of receipt of the amount till the amounts are refunded. Besides, the developer was asked to pay Rs20,000 towards cost of the complaint. The developer was also asked to pay a penalty of Rs2.50 lakh on each case on charges of violating section 7.
According to social activist Sulaiman Bhimani, MahaRERA has already issued four orders against this developer, but it is for the first time a penalty has been imposed for unfair trade practices. This is expected to clear the muck in real estate, he added.
One more complaint against ‘Om Mandar Realtors’ filed by Bhojpuri actor Sudeep Pandey is pending with the Mumbai Police. Pandey, in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) has alleged threat to him by Sulure, in whose housing project, he had booked flats and is yet to get possession despite paying full cost of the flats.
In the letter dated 5 May 2018, Pandey stated he had bought two 2BHK flats in Mandar Heights, at village Dongare, in Virar (west) during 2013. He paid Rs48.06 lakh as total cost of the flat at Rs24.03 lakh per flat each (flat No 104 and No 304). The sale deeds were registered on 24 July 2013 at Registrar’s office in Virar.
The flats were booked through two agents Rohit Naval and Dharam Pal both based in Virar.
However when Pandey visited the site on 24 January 2018, he noticed that flat No 104/K was sold to one Mukesh Agarwal and flat No 304/K was sold to one Prabhavati  S Chaudhari as per the name plates on the door.
Subsequently Sulure, the developer asked Pandey to cancel his flat bookings and gave him some cheques as refund cost. However the cheques were bounced. Sulure also allegedly threatened Pandey with dire consequences and there was also an attempt to attack him. Since Pandey was unable to visit the site fearing attack, he filed the complaint with Mumbai police, seeking urgent help in the matter.
When contacted, Senior Police Inspector Kolekar of Arnala police Station (Virar West) said that he was on medical leave. The cell phone numbers of Sulure continued to remain engaged all through out. His manager Bhagwan Chawan also could not be reached till writing this story.

 

https://www.moneylife.in/article/when-banking-ombudsman-cites-service-gesture-from-bank-to-dismiss-customer-complaint/54045.html

What goes into these fragrances? We may never know

AIR WICK ESSENTIAL OILS

 You might think that 80 times the aroma of a particular plant, even a pleasant-smelling one, would overwhelm the senses. But no one’s wincing or dry heaving (thankfully) in the above TV commercial for Air Wick’s essential oils, specifically its lavender scent, which the company claims is “infused with over 80 lavender flowers” per bottle. In fact, two of the three subjects in the ad appear pleasantly surprised when they find out that what they thought was real lavender was actually Air Wick’s product.

But how is this scent really achieved?

A TINA.org reader wrote in:

It is very unlikely that there is any real lavender in this product, as they have supposed customers choose between its scent and “real lavender.” Even if it did contain real lavender, it is highly doubtful that they would be counting the number of flowers in every bottle.

TINA.org asked Air Wick how it arrived at over 80 lavender flowers per bottle. We have yet to get a response.

But what we found when we looked up a lavender-scented essential oil on Air Wick’s website is that the first ingredient in the product (and thus the most predominant) is not “over 80 lavender flowers” but fragrance. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit that examines ingredients in consumer goods, has referred to the ingredient fragrance as “a black box for hundreds of chemicals in thousands of everyday products.” This is because fragrance is one of two ingredients on a product label that itself can be comprised of hundreds of natural and synthetic ingredients. The other is “flavor.” Under U.S. regulations, companies are allowed to simply list “fragrance” or “flavor” to protect trade secrets.

But we did some digging and, according to a “safety data sheet” for the lavender-scented essential oil, here’s some of what appears to go into Air Wick’s fragrance formula (in descending order of predominance):

  • Dipropylene glycol monomethyl ether (aka dipropylene glycol methyl ether), a chemical that a federal database describes as “a colorless liquid with a weak odor.” (Perfect for an air freshener, right?)
  • 1,7,7-Trimethylbicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-one
  • Linalyl acetate, which the database says is “isolated from numerous plants and essential oils, e.g. clary sage, lavender, lemon etc.” (Apparently, this is where Air Wick’s product gets its lavender smell.)
  • Terpineol
  • 1,1-Dimethyl-2-phenylethyl acetate
  • Hexyl salicylate

Perhaps not what you would expect from a product advertised in the commercial as “infused with 100% natural essential oils.”

Essential oils are appealing to consumers because the source is natural. However, the FDA warns:

Sometimes people think that if an “essential oil” or other ingredient comes from a plant, it must be safe. But many plants contain materials that are toxic, irritating, or likely to cause allergic reactions when applied to the skin.

Find more of our coverage on essential oils, which are prevalent in the MLM industry, here.

https://www.truthinadvertising.org/air-wick-essential-oils/

‘74% home buyers unaware of RERA compliance check process’

Around 74 per cent home buyers in India are unaware of the online process to check a realty project’s compliance status under the Real Estate Regulatory Act, a Magicbricks report said here on Monday.
“Seventy four per cent of respondents do not know that it is mandatory to check if the project is registered with the state Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and how to go about checking it on the RERA website,” said the Magicbricks Consumer Choice Poll.
“For a law which is aimed at protecting consumer interest and promote fair play in real estate transactions, this is a poor number,” the report said.
“States where the governments have been proactive and got the website and the machinery going have also seen a large number of consumers using it to check the legality of their project. However, since a large number of states are yet to get their act together, consumer awareness too is low,” said E. Jayashree Kurup, Head, Editorial and Advice, Magicbricks.
According to the report, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were the first states to set up the RERA authority and concerned websites on May 1, 2017, when the law was completely enacted.
“Maharashtra’s real estate developers are registering their projects with RERA authority websites and mentioning the registration number in their advertisements. Where it is not followed, the RERA regulators have been penalising them and publishing the same,” it said.
On the other hand, in Gurugram, more than 150 projects are registered but due to unavailability of an operational website to verify the projects’ compliance claims, consumers cannot check approvals or completion status, as per the report.
“However, the authorities are now set up and consumers can either mail or physically visit the offices in Gurugram and Panchkula and get their problems and doubts cleared,” it added.

Victory for cooperative societies, as Supreme Court approves the principle of mutuality, for CHS income

The Supreme Court has upheld the principle of mutuality, which states that a person cannot make profit from himself. We look at how this ruling will affect the levy of tax on receipts, such as non-occupancy charges, transfer fees, service charges, common amenity funds, etc

The Supreme Court (SC) of India recently provided a big relief to cooperative societies (societies), by dismissing the claim of the income tax authorities on levy of tax on various receipts (for example, non-occupancy charges, transfer fees, service charges, common amenity funds, etc.) collected by such societies. The dispute of the tax authorities revolved around a notification dated 09.08.2001, issued under section 79A of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960 and its applicability on such societies.

Based on this notification, the tax department contended that since these societies have received service charges/ maintenance charges in excess of 10 per cent of the non-occupancy charges, it was contrary to the law and hence, the principle of mutuality fails in such cases. The tax department held that such receipts are in the nature of business, having an element of commerciality and hence, principle of mutuality does not apply. The Income Tax Tribunal overruled the decision of the lower tax authorities, on the ground that the said notification was applicable only to cooperative societies and does not apply to commercial societies.

Principle of mutuality and taxation on cooperative societies

In this issue, the Bombay High Court, while dismissing the appeal of the tax department, ruled that the receipts of the societies are not in the nature of business income, generating profits/ surplus and therefore, not taxable. To claim the higher chunk of tax from similar issues, the tax authorities approached the SC. The SC observed that the doctrine of mutuality, is based on the theory that a person cannot make profit from himself. An amount received from a member, therefore, cannot be regarded as income of the society and treated as taxable in nature. The tax department has never challenged that the receipts of such societies have been utilised for purposes other than for the benefit of the members. The essence of the principle of mutuality, lies in the identification of the contributors and the participants, who are also the beneficiaries. Any surplus in the common fund, therefore, does not constitute income but will only be an increase in the common fund, meant to meet sudden/ future events.

Taxation on non-occupancy charges, transfer charges and contributions to the common fund

It was also observed by the SC that transfer charges are generally paid by the outgoing member. If part of it is paid by the transferee, it would not partake the nature of profit or commerciality, as the amount is utilised only after the transferee is admitted as a member. The moment the transferee is included as a member, the principle of mutuality comes into picture. In the event of non-admission of such transferee, the amount is returned. The same applies for non-occupancy charges, which are levied by the society and are payable by a member, who does not occupy the premises but lets it out to a third person. The charges are, again, utilised only for the common facilities and amenities for the members of society. Similarly, any contribution to the common fund, by a member disposing of a property, is utilised for meeting sudden or regular heavy repairs, to ensure continuous and proper maintenance of the society, which ultimately accrues to the enjoyment, benefit and safety of the members.

The SC further ruled that once a member is admitted to the society, the members form a class and accordingly, the identity of such members is irrelevant and the principle of mutuality is attracted automatically. The SC, relying on a plethora of rulings, went on to conclude that there was no profit motive or sharing of profits amongst the members. The surplus, if any, was not shared amongst the members but was available for providing better facilities to the members. There was a clear identity between the participants and the contributors, to the common fund of the society.

Conclusion

By bringing an end to the prolonged war between such societies and the tax department, the decision of the SC would be welcomed by such societies, as going forward, they would be free from tax hassles and will be governed by the principle of mutuality, leading to all receipts from the members being tax-exempt.

Further, the SC has not specifically mentioned anything about the income received by cooperative housing societies. It is interesting to note that although the decision is restricted to non-residential societies, it should also provide shelter to residential societies, as the underlying principle of mutuality remains the same for all types of societies. Further, once the principle of mutuality is established, all the receipts shall be exempt from tax, even though the same are in excess of the quantum as specified under some other law for time being in force.

 

BY ASHOK SHAH AND PRAVEEN KUMAR DARAK

https://housing.com/news/victory-cooperative-societies-supreme-court-approves-principle-mutuality-chs-income/

Popping Calcium Tablets? Think Again

Orthopaedic doctors and general physicians are quick to prescribe calcium supplements as being good for our bones. They are already 10 years behind. A 2008 study in New Zealand found that excess calcium (caused by calcium supplements) in the gut could lead to mal-absorption of fat, reducing saturated fat absorption. With less saturated fat absorbed, your cholesterol might fall. The researchers in New Zealand were expecting to lower heart attack rates by giving women calcium supplements because it showed a lower blood pressure, initially. There appeared to be more heart attacks in the calcium-supplemented group.
Separately, Women’s Health Initiative, the largest and longest randomised, controlled trial of calcium supplementation, reported no adverse effects. However, the participants were already on calcium supplements before the study started. So, the study was just comparing higher versus lower doses of calcium supplementation rather than supplementation versus no supplementation. The researchers then went back and checked about the women who started out not taking supplements and then were randomised to the supplement group. These women suffered more heart attacks or strokes. Thus, calcium supplements seemed to increase cardiovascular disease risk.
What happens when we take calcium tablets? Apparently, we get a spike of calcium in our bloodstream (this does not happen when we take calcium-rich foods) and can stay up for as long as eight hours. This leads to a situation when your blood clots more easily, leading to a risk of clots in the heart or brain. Is this why, in the months after a hip fracture, risk of dying shoots up, with about one in five women passing away within a year. Hip fractures can shorten the lifespan of men by an average of four to five years.
So, don’t pop the calcium pills; get calcium from foods and sunshine. In a 2012 study, one group of women received sunlight exposure and the other took calcium pills. The group taking pills had significantly increased mortality, living shorter lives than those in the sunshine group. Calcium is best taken as part of the diet with the knowledge that our body itself has a way of adjusting to calcium levels. If our calcium intake goes down, our body starts absorbing more and vice-versa. The top calcium foods are raw milk, kale, sardines, yogurt and broccoli.

Housing society is promoter for redevelopment of its buildings

Kamlesh Bhuvan CHS in Chembur had entered into a redevelopment agreement with Mahavir Enterprises for redeveloping its dilapidated building. There was also a tripartite agreement between the society, each member and the builder for allotment of flats in the re-developed building. It was agreed that each member would get additional space of 20% in the new building. The society also took a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh from the builder.

However, the builder defaulted in handing over possession of the flats on time and also failed to pay compensation for alternate accommodation for the period of delay. A member of the society Padam Chandiramani, filed a complaint before the Additional Mumbai Suburban District Forum against the builder—Mahavir Enterprises—through its partners D Gala and K Shah as well as against the housing society.

The builder contested the complaint. He stated that the keys to the flats of all the original 12 members, including Chandiramani, had been handed over to the society but the society had failed to hand over possession to its members. He argued the society had an obligation to ensure that all its members would get possession of the flats within 24 months, but had failed to do so. The society did not care to contest the case.

The forum held that the builder as well as the society were jointly and severally liable to put Chandiramani in possession of her flat, and ordered delivery of the flat within two months. Additionally, the builder was also ordered to pay compensation at the agreed rate of Rs 25 per sq ft per month along with 10% interest. Further, litigation costs of Rs 5,000 were awarded.

The builder and the society challenged this order in appeal. The state commission observed a co-operative housing society would come within the ambit of the definition of a promoter, developer and builder as it has promised it give possession of flats to its members in the redeveloped building.

Accordingly by its order delivered on April 12 by Justice A P Bhangalae for the bench along with Usha Thakare the Maharashtra State Commission modified the order passed to apportion the liability between the builder and the society If held that the builder would be liable to pay Rs 25 per sq ft to Chandirarmani for the period of delay till the date of handing over keys to the society, and thereafter, the society would be liable to pay the same amount of compensation for its failure to put Chandiramani in possession.

Jehangir Gai

(The author is a consumer activist and has won the Govt. of India’s National Youth Award for Consumer Protection. His e-mail is jehangir.gai.columnist@outlook.in)

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